Brown announces pardons for murderer, 64 others

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Gov Jerry Brown

Governor Jerry Brown (AP Photo)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Gov. Jerry Brown, who has been criticized for granting parole to more murderers than his predecessors, announced Saturday he has granted Easter Weekend pardons to 65 people, including one convicted killer.

Most of the pardons signed Saturday by Brown were for people convicted of selling or possessing drugs.

However, one of the pardons was granted to Robert Phillip Brown, who was convicted of murder. He was paroled in 1996 after serving 15 years in prison.

Others pardoned included Francisco Mauricio Nunes, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter involving a weapon. He served two years in prison

James David Vercellino, who was convicted of vehicular manslaughter and driving under the influence, also was pardoned. Like Nunes, he served two years.

Brown’s office said that everyone receiving pardons had been released from prison more than 10 years ago and had not been in trouble since then.

Brown granted a total of 128 pardons last year.

The Democratic governor came under fire from victims’ rights groups last year after it was revealed that during his first year in office he allowed about 80 percent of the state Board of Parole Hearings’ decisions to release convicted killers on parole to stand.

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, allowed about a quarter of the recommended paroles to stand, while former Gov. Gray Davis, a Democrat, allowed just 2 percent.

Crime Victims Action Alliance, a Sacramento-based group that assists victims and lobbies for their rights, said at the time that Brown’s decisions put 331 murderers back on the street.

This is the second time in the past year that Brown, who once studied to become a Jesuit priest, announced his pardons the day before a major Christian holiday. Last Christmas Eve he said he was pardoning 79 people, also mostly for drug offenses.

As a young man, Brown spent two years studying for the priesthood at the Novitiate of the Sacred Heart in Los Gatos. After serving his first two terms as governor from 1975 to 1983, he took time off from politics to study Zen Buddhism at a Japanese monastery.

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